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Ariya vaults into lead at US Women's Open

Ariya vaults into lead at US Women's Open

Heading into the back nine at the US Women's Open with a seven-shot lead, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn briefly appeared in danger of emulating the great Arnold Palmer for all the wrong reasons.

Kim, world No. 67, was six strokes back of the fifth-ranked Jutanugarn, the overnight leader, to start the final round, and fell back by as many as seven strokes during the final day.

Ariya suffered an epic collapse on the back nine, blowing a seven-stroke lead after a triple-bogey at the par-four 10th.

With Jutanugarn and Kim finishing a two-hole aggregate playoff at even par and each parring the first sudden-death hole, Jutanugarn got up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the par-4 18th.

Kim only needed to match Jutanugarn's score at the 18th but committed a bogey after finding a bunker with her second shot, while Jutanugarn made par to extend the playoff.

For Jutanargarn, its a chance for her ninth LPGA title, after winning at Kingsmill just two weeks ago, and her second major crown, after her 2016 Women's British Open win.

South Korea's Hyo-Joo Kim was in third after shooting 68 and was six shots back. Smith, who is seeking her first LPGA career title, had the luxury of sleeping in Saturday morning because she finished her second round on Friday.

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Her day unravelled coming in on the front nine, Ko dropping four more shots, including a five on her last hole of the day to finally fall below the projected cut line.

She couldn't quite complete the comeback, which would have been the biggest in the final round in U.S. Women's Open history. "I don't know why". "So I tee off on 11, I told my caddie, 'I don't know how to hit this one, '" Jutanugarn said. Kim's shot out of the bunker was decent, but Jutanugarn's was phenomenal, rolling right next to cup and setting up an easy par putt. I'm rooting for everyone because if I'm going to win the tournament, I don't want to win because another player didn't play good. Jutanugarn had her lone birdie of the back nine at No. 16, but bogeys at Nos. She was at 12-under-par 204 for the tournament. So it's nice to be able to feel like I'm seeing the greens really well and seeing some putts go in.

"I hit a couple squirrelly shots (late in the round), but made some nice up-and-downs". "Not because I want them to play golf, but because I want them to have a good life".

"Honestly I tried to smile", she said.

American Danielle Kang (69) was four shots back of Ciganda, the only player to finish fourth.

Fellow Korean and defending champion Sung Hyun Park, on the other hand, won't be around for the weekend.


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